May 19-21, 2018
Pastor Timothy J. Spaude
Text: John 14:25-27
1. Jesus kept His promises to you.
2. Now you can keep your promises to Him.
John 14:25-27 (NIV) “All this I have spoken while still with you. 26But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. 27Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”
Promises. We all make them. Big ones and little ones. How many promises do you think you have made so far in your life? “I will always love you,” moms promise their children. “I’ll be home by ten. I’ll pick it up on the way home. I will never do that again.” Promises. All kinds of them. Some big and important. Some about little and insignificant things. Now how many of your promises have you kept? There is a reason that the phrase, “Promises, promises” is said as a sarcastic reply when a person makes a promise. That phrase recognizes the truth that all promises are not kept. Sometimes because people forget. Sometimes because the person never had the ability to keep the promise in the first place. Sometimes because of sin. Promises. Promises. Today at St Jacobi we are celebrating Confirmation. For many of us, this weekend is a reminder of very important promises that we made many years ago. Twenty four brothers and sisters in the faith will make their Confirmation promises for the first time. “Do you also, as a member of this congregation, intend to continue steadfast in the confession of this church, that is in the Word of God, and to suffer all, even death, rather than fall away from it? Finally do you intend faithfully to conform all your life to the divine Word, to be faithful in the use of God’s Word and Sacraments, which are His means of grace, and in faith, word, and action to remain true to the Triune God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, even to death?” Promises, promises. Important ones. Big ones. Will you keep them? It’s important that you do. Listen to the words of Jesus. “Be faithful even to the point of death and I will give you the crown of life. Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my father in heaven but whoever disowns me before men I will disown him before my father in heaven.” Confirmation promises need to be kept. The Good news I have for you today is yes, you can keep yours. Because Jesus kept his.
A bit ago I read to you some promises Jesus made. He was with his disciples in the upper room the night before his death on the cross. He told them that things would be different soon. Jesus would visibly leave them. His work would be done. Theirs was about to start. They would have the mission of being Jesus’ witnesses to the world. They would proclaim God’s good news of salvation in Jesus. They would gather the church and teach the church everything Jesus had commanded. A daunting task! How could they do it? Jesus made a promise. “All this I have spoken while still with you. 26But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.”
This year Confirmation happens to fall on the same weekend as the Church Year festival of Pentecost. Pentecost is often called the birthday of the Christian Church because on that day in a most miraculous way Jesus kept His promise to the disciples and the Holy Spirit filled them in a special way. The Holy Spirit in a miraculous way reminded the disciples of what Jesus had taught them, the things He had said and done. Many of those things were then written down for us in the Bible. But before that happened and until that happened the disciples need not worry if they were up to that task. “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” More promises from Jesus. He gave them His peace. That calmness that comes in the midst of trouble not from the absence of trouble. He did not give like the world gives with take backs and strings. Jesus kept His promises, this one and many more. It’s no wonder the Apostle Paul wrote later in 2 Corinthians 1:20, “For no matter how many promises God has made they are “Yes” in Christ. Not one promise of God has failed.
And because of that you can keep your Confirmation promises to stay faithful to Jesus. You are going to make many promises in your lifetime but of all the promises you make this one is the most important, yes, even more important than the promise you will make to your spouse when you get married. It is more important than the promise you will make if you go into law enforcement or the military. It’s more important because this promise connects you to Jesus to give you strength to keep your other promises. This promise connects you to Jesus who is the way, the truth and the live, the only way to the Father in heaven.
I’m not sure exactly what your outlook on your future is. Younger people tend not to think too far down the road. I wonder what Jesus’ disciples thought when He told them of their future work and responsibility. Were they afraid they wouldn’t have the right stuff? And I have to believe that these promises Jesus made to them seemed like meaningless drivel that night when Jesus was arrested and the next day when Jesus died. But it wasn’t meaningless drivel. They were promises from Jesus and they learned something about the promises of Jesus. He keeps them and that meant the disciples could keep theirs too. And they did. Bible history and church history records that these disciples faithfully carried out the work Jesus gave them. Most of them died a lot sooner than they were expecting to. When that happened they saw Jesus keep more promises, to give them heaven.
There are times in our lives as Christians where we will wonder about the promises Jesus has made. There are some who have a negative and pessimistic view because of the way things are going in the world or in our country. Maybe you’ve heard an older person shake their head and say they are glad they don’t have to bring up kids now or some other such concern. That’s understandable but there is no need for fear. Jesus has left us with the Holy Spirit. He kept His promise. That means we can keep ours. We have what we need. You have what you need. In promising to be faithful to Jesus you are not promising to live a sin free life. You can’t do that because you have a sinful nature and sometimes the good that you want to do you will not do and instead the evil you won’t want to do you will do. To be faithful to Jesus is to cling to Him as your hope in this life that you don’t have to be afraid. To be faithful to Jesus is to cling to Him as the reason you will be going to heaven. To be faithful to Jesus is to be full of faith in Jesus, not yourself. And because Jesus kept His promise you can keep yours. He has left the Holy Spirit here and while you can’t keep your Confirmation promises without Him you certainly can with Him. The Holy Spirit is available for you in the Bible. He works through Holy Communion. You’ve got what you need to keep your promises. In a sense then a promise to stay faithful to Jesus is a promise to stay in the word, to be at worship, to receive the Lord’s Supper. Promises, promises!
Will you keep yours? Sadly the history of every church records confirmands who made promises and who meant them but then walked away. Maybe you know some. Maybe you were one of those who walked away for a time. If so it’s not too late. Today is the day that matters. Today you will promise your faithfulness to Jesus. You are showing it by using word and Sacrament. When your next today comes, you do the same. And the next today and the next today and the next today. You will keep your Confirmation promises and then someday the today will be the day that Jesus says, “Today you will be with me in Paradise!” And you will be, because Jesus always keeps His promises. Amen.